MSP backs bid to stop attacks on shop staff

A FORMER supermarket worker who is now an MSP has revealed how she was assaulted and abused in attacks by angry customers.

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Politician Mary Fee says she was hit with a shopping basket on one occasion and a trolley on another when she asked for ID before selling items such as alcohol, cigarettes or age-restricted DVDs.

Mrs Fee was sharing her experiences at an event for the shop workers union Usdaw at Holyrood, hosted by fellow Renfrewshire South MSP Hugh Henry as part of Respect for Shopworkers Week. She told how violence and abuse in the job were not uncommon.

Mrs Fee, a member of Usdaw for more than 20 years, said: "I know all about the violence, verbal and physical abuse our shopworkers have to put up with - I was one of them and didn't escape the aggression.

"I was hit with a shopping basket after asking someone their age and battered another time with a heavy trolley. I was also threatened and called names when I was doing a few checks and making sure it was legal to hand over drink, cigarettes or DVDs.

"Abuse of retail staff is, unfortunately, not unusual and I have sympathy with those on the front line who come under attack doing their job.

"I will be doing whatever I can to help Usdaw combat this increasing problem."

Mr Henry, who welcomed members of Usdaw to the Parliament to highlight their Freedom From Fear Campaign, said: "Incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers tends to increase as we head to Christmas.

"People are under stress, tempers may be frayed and patience has run out but that is no reason to attack any public service worker.

"Sadly, Mary's story is not unique. It is shocking that every minute of every day another shopworker is assaulted, threatened or abused.

"I was pleased to be able to support this important campaign."

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: "This is a great opportunity for retail staff to highlight to both collea-gues and customers that abuse, threats and violence against people trying to do their job is totally unacceptable.

"We are delighted with the support of Hugh, Mary and their Labour colleague Neil Bibby."

The Retail Trust charity says 60% of retail workers have reported being treated aggressively.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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